Did we like it?
It was passable. We do fear there was barely enough information about Blackbeard available to fill 23 minutes, so we were unreasonably grateful that this wasn’t an hour -long show.
What was good about it?
• We quite liked the neat graphics of ships sailing the circumference of the globe, while the incessant background accordion music put us in mind of good old Captain
• The story of Blackbeard and his cronies burning barrels of brimstone below deck in a locked cabin to see who could stand this version of ‘hell’ the longest. Blackbeard won, naturally. Men these days just fart at each other in rooms as a modern day equivalent, which just isn’t as impressive.
• The resident expert’s nicely understated line: “There was no doctor on board because educated doctors tried to avoid… well, pirates.”
• Vic mixing and drinking typical pirate drinks. Blackbeard’s speciality was Rum Fustian – beer, rum, lemon, sugar and gun powder. Vic drew the line at tasting this, which disappointed us.
• The fact that Blackbeard died during a sort of Hollywood face-off with Navy man Captain Maynard. He was about to kill Maynard when one of the captain’s men cut poor Blackbeard’s throat.
What was bad about it?
• Vic is a genial host for this and when he is allowed to be Vic and talk in a Vic way about his interest in pirates he is very good. But when it comes to the simple pieces of exposition, Vic simply isn’t comfortable in the role of being serious, and it jarred.
• For a half-hour show there was a LOT of padding.
• It was fairly interesting, but the constant cuts to one drawing of Blackbeard and a few random silent movie clips did little to stir the imagination. Series like these need to invest in some decent re-enactments of events if they are to be truly effective.